Day Hike

Annual Festival Planned at Cabrillo National Monument

September 19, 1987|JOHN McKINNEY

Cabrillo National Monument on the tip of Point Loma marks the point where Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo became the first European to set foot on California soil. He landed near Ballast Point in 1542 and claimed San Diego Bay for Spain. Cabrillo liked this "closed and very good port" and said so in his report to the King of Spain.

Next weekend is a particularly good time to visit Cabrillo National Monument because the National Park Service, with the cooperation of several civic organizations, is hosting its annual Cabrillo Festival. Next Saturday's events include lectures on the exploration of California and "living history" demonstrations at the lighthouse. On Sept. 27, visitors can watch Spanish, Mexican and Portuguese dance performances and sample foods made by these ethnic groups. The U.S. Marine Corps Band plays at 4:30 p.m., and a ceremony honoring Cabrillo will take place at 5 p.m.

Entry Fee Waived

Next weekend only, the park service is waiving its usual entry fee of $1 per person (or $3 a car load). Cabrillo National Monument is open daily 9 a.m. to sunset. For more information about the Cabrillo Festival or the national monument: (619) 557-5450.

Another highlight of a visit to the national monument is the old Point Loma Lighthouse. This lighthouse, built by the federal government, first shined its beacon in 1855. Because fog often obscured the light, the station was abandoned in 1891 and a new one built on lower ground at the tip of Point Loma. The 1891 lighthouse is still in operation today, manned by the Coast Guard. The 1855 lighthouse has been wonderfully restored to the way it looked when Capt. Israel and his family lived there in the 1880s.

The Bayside Trail begins at the old lighthouse and winds past yucca and prickly pear, sage and buckwheat. The monument protects one of the last patches of native flora in southernmost California, a hint of how San Diego Bay may have looked when Cabrillo's two small ships anchored here.

Directions to trailhead: Exit Interstate 5 on Rosecrans Street (California 209 south) and follow the signs to Cabrillo National Monument.

The hike: Before embarking on this easy family hike, you may want to obtain a trail guide at the visitors center. The guide describes the coastal sage and chaparral communities, as well as local history.

The first part of the Bayside Trail winding down from the old lighthouse is a paved road. At a barrier, you bear left on a gravel road, once a military patrol road. During World War II, the Navy secreted bunkers and searchlights along these coastal bluffs.

Bayside Trail provides fine views of the San Diego Harbor shipping lanes. Sometimes when Navy ships pass, park rangers broadcast descriptions of the vessels. Also along the trail is one of Southern California's most popular panoramic views: miles of seashore, 6,000-foot mountains to the east and Mexico to the south.

The trail dead-ends at the park boundary.

Return the same way.

Bayside Trail

Old Point Loma Lighthouse to Cabrillo National Monument Boundary: two miles round trip.

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